August 17, 2017

resources for those curious about homeschooling...

resources for those curious about homeschooling |
I thought I'd dust the cobwebs off the ol' blog this week and begin sharing some thoughts on homeschooling. I'm knee-deep in preparations for my older daughter's first grade year (she is now the age a child needs to be enrolled in school in the state of California, so it's getting official here, folks). Because I'm living and breathing homeschool prep, it crossed my mind that perhaps now would be a good time to begin sharing things I've been learning along the way.

Clearly, I'm no expert (although, I'm not sure I've ever met a homeschooler who claims to be an expert—the very nature of homeschooling is grounded in creating an education that fits the needs of each family and each child). However, I do feel I have a somewhat unique perspective, being a second-generation homeschooler. As I've mentioned in the past, I was homeschooled from 6th grade through high school and absolutely loved the experience. This is the main reason I've always felt the desire to homeschool my own children. At some point in the near future, I'd love to share in more detail the reasons we choose to homeschool, but for now, I've gathered a few good resources I hope will encourage some of you!

In my own experience, I've noticed there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about what homeschooling is actually like, and what homeschool families actually do—as well as the motivation behind what is often seen as a counter-cultural choice. I feel like getting the word out about the reality of homeschooling (at least within the walls of my own home) can possibly make more people consider it—especially those who never even thought about it before. It's a beautiful thing if you feel called to do it, and these days I feel so passionate about encouraging anyone who is curious or just starting out.

Sometime soon, I'd love to share in more detail my choice of teaching methods (mostly Charlotte Mason), curriculum we are enjoying (it's not as expensive or intensive as you may think), routines we are implementing this year (Morning Time is something I'm eager to try out), and how I'm organizing my day-to-day with two children, homeschooling, and making sure our house doesn't completely fall to pieces. (And have I mentioned here that we are expecting our third child early next year? It's pretty much the best.) I'm always fascinated by how other mamas "make it work" and thought it may help others to share how life looks for us during this busy season!

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts, books, and a handful of articles to get you started. It's a small list, but full of gems (if I do say so myself).

Homeschool Sisters Podcast
This is a podcast that makes me feel like I'm getting advice from friends who are a few steps ahead of me in the adventure of homeschooling, but are still figuring it all out along the way. Their stories are so relatable, and both of the hosts are so encouraging. There are so many fantastic episodes, and it was hard to only pick three to recommend as favorites! Here are a few to get started with if you're new to homeschooling:
You Don't Have to Do it All: Getting Started with Homeschooling
Start Small: Rhythms and Routines
Keep it Classy: The Sisters' Guide to Dealing with Homeschool Doubters

Wild + Free
The entire Wild + Free movement is something that absolutely speaks to my soul. Their philosophy is centered around giving a child a well-rounded, home-based education while also creating an environment that prolongs childhood, encouraging creativity and the exploration of the world around them. I'm not able to link to each episode, but you can click each one to bring you to where you should be able to listen. Be sure to also visit their website, which has a wealth of information, including a way to find a local Wild + Free group to join. (If we didn't already have other commitments, I'd totally be joining one!)
Episode 17: Getting Started in Homeschool
Episode 12: Finding Kindred Spirits
Episode 13: Laying the Feast

At Home
Last (but certainly not least) would have to be my absolute favorite homeschooling podcast. There are four regular hosts for every episode, each offering advice, encouragement and knowledge from their own journey. (I have a secret hope of meeting them someday, since they're local to where we live, but I have a feeling I'd be a bit of a fangirl and things may get awkward.) I especially love listening to these gals because they are all Christian homeschoolers who mostly follow the same teaching method (Charlotte Mason) that we are diving into this year. Here some episodes I especially enjoyed, with a bonus non-homeschooling one that I found particularly thought-provoking:
— Why We Homeschool: Part 1 and Part 2
Homeschooling Q&A
The Early Years
Also worth a listen: Feminism

Homeschooling: The Early Years — This is a fantastic introduction to homeschooling younger children. I'd say it's a must-read for anyone who feels they need to work up the courage to actually take the plunge!
The Homeschooling Book of Answers — I was given an older version of this book, but it's amazing how there are so many topics within its pages that are still perfectly relevant today. From tackling the socialization issue to reassurance that a teaching degree is in no way necessary to teach your own children, this book provides answers to most, if not all, the questions you may have.
Teaching from Rest — Although this book is aimed toward those who are already homeschooling, it's a quick, delightful read that is worth a mention! I plan to read this every summer before beginning a new school year. It's that good.

Blogs + Articles
I'm Not Homeschooling AT YOU — The Homeschool Sisters Podcast
Should I Homeschool? — Wild + Free
Homeschooling 101: The Early Years — Ma and Pa Modern
My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake — Read-Aloud Revival
Why Homeschooling is Growing — The Federalist

This list of resources can in no way give you you all the information you need as a new (or a maybe, possibly, sometime-in-the-future) homeschooler, but hopefully it provides you with a little encouragement and can perhaps be a jumping off point! I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you may have for me in an upcoming Q&A post, so be sure to share anything within the comments that you may be wondering about. Although my experience is limited, I'm more than happy to share about what I've learned during the last couple years and from my own research and time spent teaching my daughter.

— Further reading: maybe I've always been a homeschool mom

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here. As always, I appreciate your support!

February 23, 2017

what I am showing my daughters about motherhood...

I wonder a lot these days about the image of motherhood I am showing my daughters. What is it that they will remember about me? What will they tell their friends, their husbands, their own children? Will they know how much I loved these little years—despite the messiness and the sleepless nights and the tantrums and the extra hard days? Will they think of my joy, or remember too clearly the moments I became angry mom? What will stand out most in their minds?

And the biggest question that is on my heart is this: Does the way I live my life as a wife and mom make them eager for when they get to live out these roles in their own lives?

My older daughter is such a mirror to me. If there's one thing that motherhood has taught me, it's that you never know when you will again have a full night of sleep. (If ever.) If there's another thing that motherhood has taught me, it's that you will never be as humbled as you are in the moment when you're disciplining your child for an attitude that is an exact replica of your own. Over and over again, my daughter shows me the depth of my own weaknesses, my own struggles, my own flaws.

She becomes angry and mean when she has a simple decision in front of her, but she feels overwhelmed. As I walk her through these moments, all I can think of is how much these emotions are so familiar to me because I am the exact same way. If something breaks or our plans change or something disappoints her, she immediately goes to the negative and assumes the worst. As I comfort her and encourage her to stay positive and look for a solution, I feel ashamed that I still can't take my own advice at 32 years of age. When she can't master a new skill immediately, she gets so frustrated and angry with herself. I tell her to not give up and keep trying, yet I know I'm also prone to quitting anything I can't do perfectly right away.

The worst moments are when I see her talking to her dad in a way that is fairly dreadful, but I know exactly where she learned it. When she's upset, she mimics the way I speak to him when I'm upset. She'll also periodically make offhand remarks how hard it must be to be a mom because you have to do so much and take care of everyone and everything. She does often mention how glad she is to have a mom to take care of her, but the other comments make me feel like I'm probably too outspoken about how hard things are some days. She doesn't need to carry those burdens.

What am I doing in my day to day life that shows the good things? Do I intentionally make time to express the joy that comes from being a wife and mother? Am I so lost in the moments of frustration or exhaustion or perpetually-dirty-floors that I forget there are two little girls watching my every move?

When I think back to my own childhood, I remember my mom loving what she did. She was a mom. And a homemaker. But she never made us feel like that wasn't a high calling. She never made us feel like we were a burden, or keeping her from something more fulfilling, or that she was just trying to survive these years until we were older and she had more time to herself. It didn't matter that she'd get mad sometimes, or that things got messy or broken, or that all her time was dedicated to us girls and my dad and our home. There was still a contentment and sense of purpose that always shined through—even on the hard days. And I know that her example of motherhood is what made me put that ambition above anything else in life. I always wanted to be a wife and a mom because of her. Anything else I happened to accomplish was secondary. (And, no, I'm not ashamed to admit that—even in this day and age.)

Being a wife and a mom are what I'm most proud of in the entire world, but I'm so ridiculously far from perfect at either role.

Lately, I just feel like I'm a mess. I struggle with so many things, and even on the days I feel I'm ready to start fresh and have so many good intentions, I still fail. Over and over.

A few people have told me that they can't even imagine me getting mad or yelling at my kids, and I think it's such a testament to how you really never know what someone is struggling with based on how they look or act. I know we all tend to be harder on ourselves, but when I think about my overall attitude and reactions to situations big or small, I'm not always proud. I have days when I feel supernaturally patient, and other days when I'm on such a short fuse that every little thing feels like a trigger. There are too many days when I go to bed after an especially difficult day wondering if this will be what they remember of me. Frustrated, angry mom. Exhausted, tired-of-cleaning mom. Crabby, demanding mom.

I want to show my daughters that motherhood is truly a high calling, the same way my own mom did for me. It's hard, but it's good. I want them to want to be mothers someday. I want them to see motherhood as more than just an afterthought. I want them to know that children aren't a burden, keeping you from doing something greater. That they are my something greater. I want them to know that I tried hard every single day to love them well.

Twenty years from now, I hope their memories of the good things outweigh the memories of when I was a complete and utter mess…imperfect and insecure, with my heart tangled up in knots.

— Further reading: invisibility

February 10, 2017

free kitchen essentials from Grove Collaborative...

It's been a while since I've been able to share an offer from the folks over at Grove Collaborative, and this month I'm happy to share a free kitchen essentials kit—including some goodness from Mrs. Meyer's! I've been using the geranium hand soap since we moved in to our new home, and I love how it smells like springtime. (I'm lucky enough to be enjoying what feels like springtime here in Southern California. February is the one month of the entire year I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Yes, I feel quite spoiled. And reminded why real estate prices are crazypants around here.)

To those of you who are unfamiliar with Grove Collaborative, they're a company that delivers natural cleaning, beauty, home and baby products to your door every month. I've been a customer for what feels like ages now, and I continue ordering from them nearly every month. They consistently send out emails with additional promotions or discounts on products, so I definitely see a value in remaining a customer! They also have excellent customer service, which is always something that makes me happy.
Here is what you'll receive for free (a $25 value) as a new customer with any purchase of $20 or more:
  • Mrs. Meyer's hand soap
  • Mrs. Meyer's dish soap
  • Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponges
  • Grove Collaborative kitchen towel
  • Free shipping + free 60 day VIP membership
You can choose from a variety of scents before you check out, if geranium isn't your jam. (I personally recommend the basil scent—it's my favorite.) Also, I must say, I have a small collection of those kitchen towels and use them as hand towels in our bathrooms and absolutely adore them. As for the VIP membership, it guarantees free shipping on every order, extra freebies several times a year, and access to special discounts and promotions.

Here's how to snag your free products:

— New customers sign up here. (Please note they do not currently ship to Canada, Hawaii or Alaska!)

— Answer a few questions to help customize your first order with items you may enjoy (this only takes a few seconds).

— Fill your basket with at least $20 of products and the four products mentioned in this post will be completely free (be sure to choose which scents you'd prefer!) and you'll receive free shipping.

— Finish and pay and look forward to your first box o' goodness.

Pssst! Are you already a customer? You can click here to add one Mrs. Meyer's hand soap to your next order, absolutely free.

This offer is good through Sunday, February 12th. Be sure to order this weekend if you want to take advantage of the free products! If you end up trying anything fantastic, let me know, because I love adding new things to my monthly shipments.

Affiliate links included in this post; view my disclosure policy here. As always, I appreciate your support!